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Greene County reorganizes

Jan 04, 2011 8:39 am
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Harry Lennon, newly named Minority Leader for the Greene County Legislature in a Daily Mail file photo."][/caption]The Greene County Legislature ushered in the new year Monday evening, January 3, with a new judge, new treasurer, new county administrator on hand, along with the selection of a new leader for the Democratic legislators. Republicans hold an 8-6 majority on the legislature. Colin DeVries reports in this morning's Daily Mail that legislator Harry Lennon, one of two lawmakers representing Cairo, was chosen by the Democratic caucus to lead them through 2011 and 2012. Lennon was unanimously chosen to replace Sean Frey of Durham, who did not want the post for another year, in a caucus vote three weeks ago.

The minority leader of the legislature receives an additional $1,000 annually on top of a $15,000 salary paid to each legislator. The minority leader also has ex-officio voting power on all committees, as does the legislature chairman and majority leader. Legislator Keith Valentine, one of four lawmakers representing Catskill, remains the majority leader.

Greene County Legislature Chairman Wayne Speenburgh, R-Coxsackie, said there were “significant challenges” ahead for 2011, noting how “We believe the state isn’t through passing down some more of the tax problems to local taxpayers."

Newly-hired Greene Administrator Shaun S. Groden was in chambers during the re-organization meeting Monday night, concluding his first day on the job. Groden was administrator of St. Clair County of Michigan for seven years. Over the weekend, the county swore in its newly elected officials: Greene County Court Judge Charles M. Tailleur and Greene County Treasurer Peter Markou. Tailleur succeeds Greene County Judge Daniel K. Lalor and Markou succeeds Greene County Treasurer Willis Vermilyea.

“We will keep a watchful eye on the county spending and the revenue stream,” Lennon said after his appointment. “I feel all members of the legislature this year must take a tough fiscal approach throughout the year and make the appropriate adjustments when necessary.”

Lennon thanked his fellow Democrats for selecting him as their leader, succeeding Legislator Sean Frey of Durham. Frey said personal and professional responsibilities played a role in not seeking the position again.

“I’ve had a great experience over the last two years filling the position,” he said. “I just felt it was the right thing (to choose Lennon).”

Lennon said he looks forward to tackling the tough fiscal challenges ahead and governing with his colleagues across the aisle.

“I will continue to work with the majority of the legislature,” he said, “and continue to bring our opinions and ideas to the table for discussion.”

Lennon, 50, has been a lifelong resident of Cairo, graduating from Cairo-Durham High School in 1978. He went on to receive a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from the University of Scranton in 1983.

He works full-time with the New York State Thruway Authority as an infrastructure security officer and a senior investigator of fraud, waste and abuse.

Lennon was first elected as legislator in 2006 and re-elected in 2009.

Dominick J. Cornelius was re-appointed as public defender, receiving a salary of $84,011.

David C. Dorpfeld was re-appointed Greene County historian and Charles B. Swain was re-appointed Greene County minority historian.

Dr. Walter Hubicki II was re-appointed Greene County Jail physician.

Dr. Catalina Alegre-Levine was re-appointed medical director for the Physically Handicapped Children’s Program.

Legislator Larry Gardner, D-Hunter was appointed parliamentarian of the legislature. Gardner, chairman of the human services committee, was additionally appointed as a member of the Greene County Council for the Disabled.

Legislator James Hitchcock, R-Windham, chairman of the highway committee, was appointed as Greene County representative to the Albany County Airport Authority Regional Advisory Board. Hitchcock was also appointed as the associate director of the Altamont Fair Board of Directors.

Legislator Joseph Izzo, R-Catskill, was appointed to serve on the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s board of directors, with Legislator Kevin Lewis, R-Greenville, as an alternate representative.

Legislator Karen Deyo, R-Catskill, chairwoman of the government operations committee, will serve as a member of the Economic Development Committee.

Committee assignments have been adjusted to reflect the change in Democratic leadership. Frey will join the conservation, education and health committees. Legislator James Van Slyke, D-New Baltimore, will join the government operations committee. Legislator Forest Cotten, D-Catskill, will join the public safety committee. Legislator Chris Pfister, D-Athens, will join the human services and public safety committees.

The Daily Mail was designated the county’s official newspaper.